North African Grilled Chicken

Without AC in the summer, our small Pittsburgh kitchen is not a place you want to be cooking with high heat. For us, summer eating often revolves around the grill, where our current go-to protein is North African Grilled Chicken. Inspired by the flavors of the famous North African spice mix known as Ras Al-Hanout (or "best of the shop"), our marinade uses a blend of warming spices, cinnamon, black pepper, turmeric, cumin, nutmeg, and cloves, balanced with punchy lemon. This fragrant combination is intoxicating. North African Grilled Chicken is a crowd pleaser on its own and an excellent light addition to sandwiches, salads, or tacos.

Yield: serves about 6


  • 5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • juice of 2 lemons (approximately 4 tablespoons)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves


  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the marinade ingredients (olive oil, salt, lemon juice, cinnamon, pepper, turmeric, cumin, nutmeg, and cloves) until well combined.
  2. Combine the chicken and marinade in a zip-top bag, shake well to evenly coat all pieces. Allow the chicken to marinate in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours (as long as overnight) before grilling.
  3. Preheat your grill on high for 10-15 minutes. Clean the grates thoroughly and wipe with a lightly oiled rag just prior to grilling to reduce sticking.
  4. Grill on medium heat (covered) for about 7-10 minutes per side. You are looking for nice browning and the chicken to just cook through in the middle. Your cook time will vary depending on the thickness of the pieces and the starting temperature of your meat. As you finish cooking, test a piece by cutting through the thickest part (you should not see any pink).
  5. For moist meat, allow the grilled chicken to rest for 5 minutes, covered, before serving.